- After months of being on the sidelines in the COVID-19 vaccination effort and volumes that plummeted last year threatening financial solvency, primary care physicians are now administering more vaccines but are still concerned about the future of their profession. , according to a new survey.
- Data published on Monday The Larry A. Green Center and Primary Care Collaborative found that more than half of practices say they are getting enough vaccinations for their patients, while about a third are partnering with local groups or governments to prioritize people for inoculation, although vaccinations are a key concern and are contributing to depletion.
- Yet 40% of physicians are concerned that primary care will disappear in just five years, leading the groups behind the survey to call for new policies that support the sector.
Despite falling case rates as vaccination efforts increased in 2021, the COVID-19 landscape has changed dramatically as the highly infectious delta variant continues to take hold in the US, forcing the return of the masks mandates and social restrictions in some of the most affected areas of the country.
About half of the US population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and administration rates peaked in early April. However, that has drastically decreased since, according to a tracker maintained by NPR. About a third of American adults have yet to receive a single injection, and are more likely to be young, Republican or Republican-leaning, and have lower education and income levels than the vaccinated population, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The federal strategy for receiving gun injections has shifted from centralized mass vaccination sites to more targeted local efforts, under President Joe Biden. emphasizing the role of primary care as trusted community doctors at a briefing in early July.
However, the new survey of more than 700 respondents sent out in mid-July found that community doctors are now more involved in vaccines, but are reporting challenges for those who resist to change their minds about how to get the vaccine, and they continue to report significant concerns about the stability of the sector.
More than half of those surveyed said that hesitancy among unvaccinated people is “high and difficult to counteract,” contributing to increased levels of stress and exhaustion.
“I am exhausted from trying to counter the myths about covid and the vaccine,” wrote a front-line doctor from Tennessee in response to the survey, while another doctor from Kentucky reported that patients “are not willing to get.” The southern and midwestern states are currently lagging behind in vaccine adoption.
Overall, primary care physicians report less stress following the intense COVID-19 surges in 2020, with 76% of respondents rating the pandemic stress in their practice as low or moderate. However, 36% of doctors say they are constantly lethargic, have a hard time finding joy in their life, and sometimes struggle to think clearly.
That ongoing fatigue suggests potential threats to the U.S. primary care workforce, which has already shrunk in size in recent years due to rampant consolidation, closures and negligence that was probably only talked about last year, threats the report called “existential.” By one estimate, America’s primary care practices lost more than $ 15 billion in 2020 during a catastrophic drop in patient visits.
Of those surveyed, 40% of doctors fear that primary care will disappear in five years, while 21% say they plan to leave primary care in three years.
“While pressure is now being put on primary care to convert the most vaccine-resistant, to date little has been done to support primary care, “said Rebecca Etz, co-director of the Larry A. Green Center, in a statement.
The physicians responding to the survey called on the federal government to change the policy around primary care to protect it as a common good and change the way it is financed and paid for so that it does not compete directly with specialty care and is Stay away from pay-for-pay. service models.